Canada eases eligibility requirements for Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

Shelby Thevenot
Published: December 15, 2020

Canada's minister of immigration, Marco Mendicino, made two announcements on changes to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) on December 14.

Applicants no longer need to have accumulated work experience over a continuous period of time. Instead, Canada will count the work experience requirement if it was completed within the three years preceding the application. One year of eligible work experience is still required for the program, but having breaks in employment does not make someone ineligible for the program. This applies to all who have already applied for the pilot, as well as those who apply in the future.

Also, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is also allowing RNIP applicants who are waiting for a decision on their permanent residence application to apply for a work permit without being penalized due to processing delays. This temporary measure applies to people who are going through the process during the pandemic.

Despite these changes, applicants will still need to meet the admissibility and program requirements of the RNIP in order to immigrate to Canada through the pilot.

Find out if you’re eligible for Canadian immigration

The RNIP allows certain rural communities in Canada to offer pathways to permanent residency for skilled workers. Participating communities are allowed to set their own eligibility requirements based on their local labour market needs.

"The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, and other pilots, are helping to get the workers we need to places like Sault Ste. Marie, where we need them," Mendicino said. "We’re going to continue working to ensure that the benefits of immigration are felt in cities and towns across our country.”

There are 11 rural communities participating in the pilot including:

  • North Bay, Ontario;
  • Sudbury, Onatario;
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario;
  • Timmins, Ontario;
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario;
  • Brandon, Manitoba;
  • Altona/Rhineland, Manitoba;
  • Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan;
  • Claresholm, Alberta;
  • Vernon, British Columbia; and
  • West Kootenay, British Columbia.

The new measures come as IRCC announces the first permanent residents accepted under RNIP. Alexander Nangpukin Likilasua and Brilla Mercy Kunjumon are working as licensed practical nurses in Sault Ste. Marie.

“Newcomers have played an outsized role in our hospitals and long-term care homes during the pandemic," Mendicino said in the media release. "They also account for roughly one in four of Canada’s practical nurses—like Alexander and Brilla—and one in three of our family doctors and pharmacists."

Immigrants make up about 36 per cent of Canada's pharmacists and family physicians, 39 per cent of all dentists, 27 per cent of all licensed practical nurses and 35 per cent of nurse aides and related occupations.

More than 40 per cent of all newcomers to Canada between 2011 and 2016 who were working in the health-care sector were employed in nursing and residential care facilities, as well as home health-care services.

“The recovery from the pandemic will only increase the competition for diverse talent," said Maryam Monsef, Canada's minister for women, gender equality, and rural economic development. "The enhancements to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will create jobs in rural Canada and respond to what we heard from employers from our rural economic development strategy.”

Find out if you’re eligible for Canadian immigration

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